Sunday, 20 January 2013

One Year Later

It's just over a year since I started this blog, so now is an obvious time to see how it's developed. I didn't set out to achieve a particular goal, so there is no measure of success to refer to, but the passage of time does allow for a then-and-now contrast.

The most obvious visual difference is that the posts, and incidentally the paragraphs, have got longer. I think when I started I was subconsciously worried about boring the reader and consequently aimed for Hemingwayesque brevity. Over the months, I've eased up and allowed my thoughts to develop their own momentum, which has meant more subordinate clauses and discursive paragraphs (and parentheses). Related to this (I think), the frequency has dropped slightly, from around 17 posts a month to around 10 now. I'm conscious that I've settled into the assumption that every 3 days is about right for a new post, so I suspect it will stay around that level.

The most frequently used tags have been politics (91) and economics (65). History and spectacle are in the 30s, while Arsenal, technology and film & TV are in the 20s. Books and London make the teens, while music and SF are still in single figures. From arse to elbow can therefore been seen as the description of a normal distribution, with power and money at the peak of the topical curve.

There have been 9,675 pageviews to date (which excludes my own activity), so I should breast the 10k tape sometime in the next few weeks. It's hardly earth-shattering, but it's a milestone nonetheless. The top five countries of origin are:

United Kingdom   5050
United States1869

I'm guessing here, but I suspect the Russians are mainly bots, though there might be a few Lermontov fans. The current rule of thumb is that around half of all Web traffic is non-human, though this average hides a wide variation across sites. Popular sites tend to attract a disproportionate amount of bot traffic for three reasons: bots follow links (and inbound links are the primary measure of popularity); spam comments target popular sites, for obvious reasons; and scrapers (those that nick content) focus on high-activity sites where the content regularly changes. Personal blog sites tend to attract fewer bots, so I suspect "real" pageviews are around the 6 to 7k mark.

The main referrers are, unsurprisingly, Google (searches for "fromarsetoelbow"), Typepad (where I have a profile so comments by me on other sites link back here), and Twitter ( link shorteners - these are tweets by others - I don't have an account). I've also had a fair few links via Boffy's Blog (which kindly includes me in its blog feed), which means I've been categorised as a Marxist Northern Soul fan by association. The top Google search keywords are variations on arse and elbow, though I'm also popular when it comes to Mordor, David Graeber and abusive sex (I confess the last was a bit of a conscious experiment).

Windows is the dominant operating system (72%), with Internet Explorer the most popular browser at 38%, ahead of Firefox on 28% and Chrome and Safari each on 12%. Mobile (phones and tablets) makes up about 12% of pageviews. I infer from this data that most of my readers are probably at work and that I am a welcome distraction (yeah, stick it to the man!)

There have been 72 genuine comments and 5 spam. With 167 posts to date, this means an average of 0.43 comments per post. That might appear to indicate that I'm largely talking to myself, but I like to think that it reflects the unimprovability of my arguments. Looking on the bright side, I don't have to worry about trolls.

I've found the Blogger software to be pretty decent overall. Injecting custom site code is a bit of a fiddle, but manageable. The post editor lets you toggle between WYSIWYG and HTML, though it does tend to auto-mangle the latter on occasions. The stats could do with a time-of-day historical breakdown (it only shows today at this granularity), and also a breakdown of referrers by post. The spellchecker is mad. It doesn't recognise "blog" and insists "practice" must be "practise".

I'll stop now. This post is getting worryingly long.

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